‘It is about transparency, restructuring, devolution of power’
By Akpo Ometan
Nigerians commentators say they are not persuaded by the reasons adduced by President Muhammadu Buhari for not signing the long-desired, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB.
The bill, which has suffered sustained setbacks for about a decade, was finally passed by both houses of the National Assembly in January.
In his official clarification of the President’s position and signed by the Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, the Presidency had explained that PIGB “unduly increases the funds accruing to the Petroleum Regulatory commission to the detriment of the revenue available to the Federal, States, Federal Capital Territory, and Local Governments.’
However, commentators say that the real challenge is the jettisoning of the earlier promise by the ruling All Progressive Congress to restructure the nation and devolve more powers to federating units in favour of retaining the present ‘unitarist’ Federal governance structure that is operational in the country and which concentrates the bulk of the powers of state on a very dominant Federal tier of government that is superintended by the President. They say that by hiding behind revenue sharing and constitutional overlap objections, the administration is simply giving further life to its preferred position of running a government with ‘an all-towering centre.’
Underscoring their view, they aver that the decision not to sign also correlates other policy pronouncements by senior operatives of the administration as Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo and President Buhari himself in the past few days on issues like restructuring and the rule of law.
Even business is not excluded from those that have expressed their displeasure over the development.In a string of tweets for example, United Capital Plc regretted that the decision was indeed a mistake:
3)We think this is a major setback for the Nigerian oil industry given that the PIGB was drafted to: harmonize regulation in the industry (currently carried-out by the DPR, PPPRA & NNPC)…
5)Also, the power of the executive will remain absolute in the Nigerian oil industry as the checks & balances modeled into the PIGB will remain ineffective….
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo